DREMC members urged to complete broadband access survey

DREMC members urged to complete broadband access survey

Thousands of Duck River EMC members don’t have access to broadband internet, and across Tennessee rural broadband availability is a hope, rather than a reality. The Department of Economic and Community Development wants to find out how many Tennesseans don’t have broadband access and the cost of solving this problem.

A statewide online survey is underway through March 15 to gauge household and business access to broadband. Residents can visit www.tn.gov/broadband to take the 20-minute survey or go to local libraries and Tennessee workforce centers.

DREMC regularly receives inquiries from members about what role the co-op might play in making broadband internet available. Electric co-ops in Tennessee are currently prevented under state law from offering internet service, but this could change.

“We urge our members to spare the time to complete the state survey. Officials need information about the scope of the access problem and what it would take to fix it,” says Michael Watson, DREMC president/CEO.

“We believe electric co-ops eventually will be involved in the solution. This is the first step, however.”

Some see the proliferation of rural broadband as being similar to the early days of rural electrification. The power companies would not extend lines into the countryside because lower customer density affected profits.

“Education and economic development are dependent on access to broadband. It affects our quality of life. We are glad this statewide survey has been undertaken as a means of beginning to address the problem,” Watson adds.